Sometimes Following Your Bliss Leads to a New Tribe – by Alyson Button Stone

Although well into the second phase of my working life, it’s only recently that I’ve taken any note of salespeople as persons of interest. These days, though — with a new job directing content strategy for a feisty startup — “social selling” is one of the topics of extreme interest to my blog audience.

Thus it was that “the following” of the sales ecosystem began. I started to follow sales influencers on Twitter. LinkedIn, and elsewhere. The lists grew. Amazon searches for authors. Google searches for keywords. Advice from trusted voices. Salespeople began to rise to the top of my mind — and my inbox. Influencers, coaches, bloggers, speakers, entrepreneurial newbies. New relationships began to cascade into my life.

I suppose I must confess to a hazy and stereotypical view of a “salesperson” — and not a particularly pretty one. When I stopped to examine it, I came to see that this view was tied to a few bad car-buying experiences, and a really funny story about a vacuum-cleaner salesman (but that’s a story for another time).

As I met new people and checked them off as members of the sales-themed culture now taking shape in my life, I noticed that I’d frequently say something like, “So and so was really great to talk to. So generous with his time. So willing to help me.” Pretty soon it occurred to me that the “nice” salespeople weren’t outliers; they were the norm.

Creaking and groaning, my long-held, rusty misperceptions gained polish, a pleasant patina, and the fresh smell of Lemon Pledge. Another tribe had welcomed me, and I felt at home.

This has happened before. I’ve been blessed with diverse responsibilities and roles, have worn the “many hats” known well by any member of a small team. I’ve come to embrace communities far from my traditional home turf — as community manager, mentor, worker bee, and lowly (but contented) “gopher.”

All those roles have led me to new tribes, but the Sales Tribe really surprised me. Even in one short month, I’ve come to see common traits that the tribe members share. In my now more focused and balanced view, I’ve identified traits that appear again and again:

1. An optimistic nature — a “can-do” attitude, a “walk it off” outlook

2. A sharp mind — I love a sharp mind, don’t you? I can always tell when people are kindly slowing it down a bit for me to give me time to absorb what they know so expertly! That’s a wonderful trait of a thoughtful salesperson, don’t you think?

3. An adventurous spirit — willing to take a risk, to try something new, even to look foolish in the exploration…

4. A naturally sociable and agreeable personality — easy to talk to, easy to like, open and authentic

5. A  strong sense of good manners — and isn’t this totally underrated! It’s easy to say Yes to someone who understands that good manners make people comfortable.

6. A strong code of ethics and fairness — willing to give before taking, not happy unless value is evenly distributed.

7. A self-assured independence — You know what I mean — “stand-up guys” –the kind of people you’d want in the lifeboat with you because they wouldn’t whine, and they wouldn’t let you down or steal your last pack of peanut butter crackers.

8. A self-deprecating nature — and not a phony one, I  mean genuine humility. It’s refreshing.

9. An affinity for “old school values” — This has been the most surprising trait of all to me. I see those values learned in kindergarten, an adherence to self-discipline and organization. The dog would not eat their homework. Even my new younger sales friends have an admirable ability to stay on task, on time, and follow through.

10. An unselfish and generous soul – They show up, reliably, offering a hand or a kind word of encouragement.

The salespeople I’ve met in 2013 have changed my ingrained prejudices and expectations by helping me succeed.

I only hope that in some small way I can return the favor.


Alyson recently joined the Nimble team after several years working for other cool startups — and writing at her own company, A Woman of Letters. An active volunteer in her small Massachusetts town, she serves as a Library Trustee and has spearheaded municipal building and renovation projects.When she has time, she tells personal stories on her own blog —


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